Whether it’s a parent singing a baby a lullaby, a toddler shaking a maraca, a group of children dancing to “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” or a child strumming her first guitar, music is a staple in every stage of development. We’re thankful to have a robust music program at ICT, and we’ve seen the developmental benefits of engaging children in music firsthand – benefits that research backs up, too.
Here are some of the reason we love making music together.
Language Benefits of Music
Research has found that music and language are processed in the same way by the same areas of the brain. So when children engage in musical activities, they’re strengthening the parts of their brain that are responsible for language learning. Musical activities can also:
- Help children discriminate between different speech sounds (auditory discrimination).
- Promote phonological awareness (the ability to recognize and work with speech sounds) through rhyming and alliteration.
- Build vocabulary and concepts through repeat words, phrases, and actions.
- Strengthen auditory memory with songs that build on a sequence, such as “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.”
Social Benefits of Music
Music has been a social tool since ancient times, and researchers are beginning to understand why. They have found that singing and dancing together can:
- Increase positive social feelings for others.
- Build empathy (this fascinating study found that children who participated in a group musical activity for one hour each week for one school year scored significantly higher on empathy measures than peers who participated in other, non-musical activities).
- Encourage learning through social imitation.
- Facilitate group cohesion and following a “group plan.”
- Serve as a transition tool to mark the end of an activity and the beginning of another one.
Sensory Benefits of Music
Music, especially when it’s interactive, is a full-body sensory experience! It can:
- Support self-regulation as children match the speed of their movements to the speed of the music.
- Help children either calm themselves or increase their energy level depending on the tone.
- Strengthen body awareness, balance, coordination, and motor planning skills through choreographed dancing.
- Build fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination when using musical instruments.
Aside from these researched-backed benefits, music is simply a joyful activity, and children tend to be more available for learning when they are having fun!